The devil, they say, is in the details. Anyone who's planned a considerable undertaking--be it a new kitchen or strategy for your organization--knows that the beast can rear its ugly head when you haven't thought the project through well enough.[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="400" caption="Want a Painless Website? Get Planning"] [/caption]
[Image: Flickr user opensourceway]
Before you begin to think about selecting a technology partner for your new website redesign, you should do a little preliminary planning so you know what to look for when it comes time to choose. Now would also be a good time to do an internal needs assessment, so get your team involved to help.
Start with having the answers to these questions handy, and you'll be glad you did when it comes time to start shopping for a web designer or put together an RFP (request for proposal).
- When do you want to launch?
- Do you already have a budget established? If your funds don't meet your aspirations, can you break the project into phases?
- What is the main goal for the new website or redesign (update the design, provide a better user experience, target a different audience, etc.)?
- What's the site's concept? In other words, why does it exist?
- Who is a typical person who might use the website? There might be more than one.
- What's the main thing people need to do on your website (search for information, sign up for something, make donations)?
- What's your functionality wish list for the new site (calendar, RSS, Twitter feed, Facebook Like button, etc.)?
- What are some other sites you like, and why?
If you've got the answers to these questions, then you'll be able to answer questions from your web development partner, and you'll be in a better position to make a decision. Also check A Comprehensive Website Planning Guide from Smashing Magazine for an even more in-depth look into planning successful websites.